College Dance Team Try-Outs by Rosie Nestor

College Dance Team Try-Outs by Rosie Nestor

  Congratulations! You have made the exciting decision to try out for a collegiate dance team or are at least thinking about it! Just like going to college, these try outs are exciting, scary, and filled with lots of unknowns. The dancers that present themselves with confidence are always most successful. So how do you feel confident about something so intimidating? There are some easy tips that you can follow to feel more prepared going into your tryout!

All of these teams have Instagram pages and multiple routines posted on YouTube. Take time to do lots of research and find out everything about the team. Try to answer the following questions: do they perform at football games? basketball games? are they on the sideline? or just do halftime? during halftime performances what styles are they doing? do they compete? do they compete at UDA or NDA? what styles do they compete in? All of these questions can help you to understand what their priorities will be at try outs! If you can get a good gauge on the team’s style before you arrive, you will be one step ahead!

During your research you will realize how in sync these teams truly are. They look like 1 dancer with their timing and stylization. You goal during the audition is to blend in with current team members. Try to watch the other girls and notice exactly how they are executing movements and do your best to mimic them. Usually the last step in a college tryout is putting you with the current team to make sure you don’t stand out in a negative way! If you know there is an area you need to work on, then train! College teams are made up of extremely well-rounded dancers. Go in prepared to mix well with the current team in all styles that they do!

At some point in the tryout you will be given the opportunity to let yourself shine! Most tryouts will give you a chance to do this across the floor, alone in the middle of the room, or improving before a combination begins. You need to take this time to showcase yourself very seriously! Have a plan of exactly what you’re going to do anytime you get to improv. Which turn, which leap, which leg are you best known for on your team or at your studio? This is your time to do whatever you are best at and most confident with, not a time to throw a crazy trick you’ve only done a few times. Do your best to make yourself seen and remembered!

A completely different aspect of college dance teams is that they are also judging the way that you look. Make sure you look very put together head to toe! If they require you dance with your hair down, take time to practice this ahead of time. Always wear more makeup than you would normally. Again, check their Instagram and look at how their current dancers are styled! Copy that, and you will be set! Even when learning a combination, if the judges or coaches are in the room, then you should be smiling!

Being on a college dance team means you are the face of that university. Confidence will be expected during television interviews, conversations with fans, and time on the big screen at a basketball game. These teams are looking for positive, social young women that can hold themselves well! Make sure you take the opportunity to talk to some of the returning members to showcase this side of yourself. If you are friendly and warm to others at the audition, it will be noticed! The returning members of the team often report back to their coach about who has made a good impression out in the hallway while waiting around during the process! You want to make the other dancers want you on their team!

Being on a college dance team can be one of the best experiences of your life! You make friends that you will have forever, you get the chance to be involved in your university in a way that is so unique, and you get to keep dancing! Take the audition process as the first step in this exciting journey. Remember to enjoy it and have fun!

Tips to Dress for Acro Success

Tips to Dress for Acro Success

As simple as it may seem, preparing for class is the #1 way to set you and your student up for success.  Dress code ensures each student is ready to focus on their training and make the most of their time while participating in class.

Here are 3 tips for success:

  1. Clothing- Make sure your tumbling dancer has form-fitting dancewear on.  Absolutely no loose clothing.  This is for the safety of the tumbler and the instructor.  If the dancewear stays in place, your tumbling dancer can concentrate on the trick they are working on.  It also allows the instructor to monitor body movement and make the proper corrections. A few suggestions for appropriate dancewear are:  Leotards, bra tops and booty shorts, tight fitting tank tops and leggings, or any combination of the above.  Also, no jewelry should be worn to class.
  2. Hair- Should be pulled back and out of the face.  Low ponytails, buns, or braids are great options for class.
  3. Feet- Bare feet are best for starting to learn all acro tricks.

Kelly Conaway, Owner of Aerial Achievements is an acro, stretch and flexibility coach, with more than 20 years of professional teaching experience with studios nationwide. She has regional and national competition experience as both a coach and choreographer. Kelly has received performance award recognition for outstanding instruction by a coach and is known for her progressive approach to acro and spotting techniques that creates a fearless dancer. She has a passion for the art of acrobatics, a commitment to the studios she is involved with and pure dedication to the students she teaches.

Helping Your Child Manage Stress and Make Good Decisions

Helping Your Child Manage Stress and Make Good Decisions

In today’s fast-faced and electronically-driven world, it is often challenging to manage the stress that comes with our busy schedules and countless responsibilities. It seems that both parents and children alike are busier than ever, and feeling “stressed out” is certainly not a foreign concept. While many factors may be out of our control, there are some key things we can do to help our children manage their stress and make good decisions:

  1. Healthy identification and expression of emotions: Stress is directly tied to our emotions, and our ability to recognize and understand our own feelings is the first step to being emotionally healthy. Sometimes we inadvertently teach our children that feelings are wrong or bad, and that certain emotions, specifically anger or sadness, should be suppressed rather than addressed. But our emotions serve a purpose, and are there to express a need. When we are sad, we need comfort. When we are afraid, we are seeking the removal of a real or perceived threat. Simply suppressing our emotions can lead to negative outbursts, dysfunctional relationship patterns, and even pathology. Helping your child identify what he is feeling is the first step in producing a healthy adult. If your child is vocal, sit down and talk to her about an emotional reaction you may have noticed. “That must have made you really angry when your sister took your ____.” “Were you disappointed that you didn’t win the contest?” If your child is younger, or has difficulty expressing himself verbally, you can encourage him to draw a picture of how he’s feeling, write it down on paper, or act it out with a puppet. Once you’ve identified the emotion, remember to express to them that it is okay to have that feeling, but it is what they do with it that is important. “It is okay to be angry with your brother when he breaks your toy, but it is not okay to hit him.”
  2. Help your child develop healthy coping skills: Once your child has learned to recognize what she is feeling when she is feeling it, then she can begin to address it in a healthy manner. Help him brainstorm some healthy ways of responding (rather than reacting) when he does become angry, anxious, etc. Remember that each child is different, and coping skills vary depending upon their personality and temperament. Journaling is an excellent tool, and there are several great resources out there, including The Feelings Book Journal by American Girl. Art and music are also excellent outlets. Or perhaps you have an active child who has trouble sitting still. They may benefit from some simple yoga moves such as downward dog or a cat stretch, or acting out how they would solve their problems as their favorite superhero. Be sure to incorporate slow breathing and keep it light and fun. You may be as creative as you like with these activities, and you may even find that they are both enjoyable and helpful for learning more about your child and developing an even stronger bond.
  3. Identifying consequences: Every action that we take will lead to either a positive or negative consequence. Help your child recognize that she has a choice of how she may respond to a given situation, and what may happen as a natural or logical result of that choice. Eating too many Oreos will likely result in a stomachache. Finishing homework right away will allow more time for fun activities. If a child understands both the positive and negative consequences of his actions, he is more likely to make good choices even when no one is watching.

The more that your child is able to identify and cope with difficult emotions, the better their ability to manage stress and make healthy decisions that will benefit them in the future. Parenting can be challenging and frustrating, but take heart in knowing that simply taking the time to understand, nurture, and teach your child will make all the difference in helping them become a successful adult. Finally, if you feel that your child is suffering from anxiety and/or depression, please do not hesitate to seek professional help. There are some excellent resources out there for both children and parents, and you do not have to go through it alone.

By Chara Ward, LCSW

Chara Ward is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who currently operates a private practice in San Marcos, CA. She offers counseling services to children, adolescents, and adults. For more information on her practice or to schedule an appointment, please call (760) 410-8021 or visit her website:

Strengthening the Gluteus Medius

The Gluteus Medius is an important muscle located on the side of your hip/bottom. It helps with hip abduction (lifting leg out to the side), but even more importantly it stabilizes the pelvis.

Notice in the picture here when you have a weak Gluteus Medius on the supporting leg it causes your working leg hip to drop. (Image from: Prevent Disease, UWO)

It is common to have a weak Gluteus Medius. Unfortunately, when this muscle is weak it can cause knee pain, IT-Band Friction, and Hip Pain.

Below are 3 quick exercises to strengthen your Gluteus Medius and help prevent injury!

Side Lying- Abduction

Begin with body lying flat against a wall. Keep your legs parallel, knees and toes pointing forward. Raise top leg to approximately 45 degrees keeping the heel in contact with the wall the entire time. Return controlled to starting position. In order to make this harder try adding an ankle weight or resistance bands (see link below).

Complete: 2 Sets of 20-25 reps … or until fatigue (on both sides)

Lateral Monster Walks 

With a resistance band around both ankles, walk to the side while keeping your feet parallel spread apart. Keep your knees bent and over your toes the entire time.

Hip Hikes

Start: Position yourself on a stool with one leg on and one off of the stool

Movement: Hike the hip that is not on the stool up and then lower it down.

This should fatigue the weight bearing side and strengthen the gluteus medius on that side.

Complete: 2 sets of 15 on each side


My Personal Favorite Resistance Bands– great for dancers of all ages – is here.

Ankle Weights–  maximum 5lbs (for older advanced dancers) younger stick to lower weights – is here!

Quick Update + Summer Camps + Workshops!

Just a couple of quick updates for you!

June 4th:  Privates Available
Please contact me if interested.

June 11th:  Arabian Nights Auditions

  1. If you’re interested in auditioning, please hit respond to this email and request an information packet prior to auditions.
  2. Submit your $25 Auditioning fee to Kelly Conaway.
  3. Make note of your audition time, based on your age below.
  4. If you’re unable to make auditions but are interested in auditioning, please contact me and let me know.  You can do so by hitting reply to this email.

June 17th:  Love To Dance Workshop
See Details Below

Acro Camps:
If you’re interested in participating in an Acro Camp this summer, please contact them directly to sign-up.
Signature Dance Academy:  July 10th– July 14th from 9am-12pm
Inspired Movement:  July 17th– 21st from 12:30-3:30
Element Dance Center:  24th– 28th from 9am-1pm
Signature Dance Academy:  July 31st– August 4th from 9am-12pm

We have several workshops happening in July as well.  More info on that below.

Kelly Conaway

P.S.  We will be teaching afternoon classes this summer at the following studios.  Please contact them directly to sign-up:  So Cal Dance, Signature Dance Academy, Inspired Movement, Movement Dance Center, and Element Dance Center.

To read the rest of this newsletter, please click here.

Proprioception And Training Your Balance

Proprioception is loosely defined as the body’s ability to sense itself. Your body is able to unconsciously perceive movement and spatial orientation thru proprioceptors (nerves) located throughout the body. Once the proprioceptors send the information to the brain, the brain is able to send a message to the body to correct for the change in movement.

So how does this help the tumbling dancer?

The wobbles you are feeling while trying to hold a passé in relevé, or the supporting leg while trying to hold an extension is your bodies way of making lots of small changes to keep yourself perfectly balanced.

A great way to begin training your balance is the use of an unstable surface. Some ideas are standing on a pillow, a rolled-up towel, a foam pad, a bosu ball or a dyna disc (which you can purchase on Amazon)

Here are 3 exercises to try while standing on the dyna disc.

For all of the exercises plant your supporting leg directly in the center of the disc. Make sure you have plenty of room around you. Do not advanced to the next exercise until you are ready.

1. Passé balance- hold 30 seconds repeat 3 times
2. Developé- en croix from a turned out passé
3. Leg holds (devant- and a la seconde)

This is a great tool to pack with you for competition to help warm up your core and balance.

Fun Fact: Training your brain and muscles to react to an unstable environment can actually help prevent injuries!

Written By:  Marianne Andersen, ATC

Acro, Leaps and Turns Workshop August 7th 2016

Superman isn’t the only one who can fly through the air!  Check out our Acro, Leaps and Turns Workshop. Hosted by Aerial Achievements at SoCal Dance on August 7th 2016, these kids were flying through the air and even had straight legs and pointed toes!  Ms. Kelly, with the special guest Mr. KJ, took dancers and tumblers from beginners to advanced and made them fly through the air. Students from seven different studios came to the workshop to experience the thrills and learn techniques that will further help them in their dancing careers.

In the acro portion of their workshops, students worked with Ms. Kelly and her assistants to master old skills and learn new ones. They were pushed beyond what they originally thought they could do to achieve skills that put a huge smile not only on their face but on Ms. Kellys as well. Once the kids were finished with the acro portion of the workshop they were eager to join Mr. KJ were they worked on leaps and tricks, continuing to fly through the air. Mr. KJ focused on making the kids realize the beauty behind having straight legs and pointed feet. He also focused on teaching the students to use their strength to help elevate their dancing to the next level.

The students who attended this workshop, much like the many others that Ms. Kelly has hosted, not only learned new skills and tricks but also learned how to be leaders. Ms. Kelly pushes the kids to be the best they can be and to help others. Her favorite quote is “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”- Lao Tzu. Ms. Kelly gives the students the tools and steps back to let the kids achieve greatness;  they become their own “Supergirl”.


Written by: Ms. Brittany Onder

Acro and Turns Workshop July 10th 2016

“Practice makes perfect”, a saying we have all heard before and one that couldn’t be more true! The kids who attended Aerial Achievements weekend workshops get that additional “practice” that helps them to work on achieving those perfect dance and acro skills. On Sunday July 10th, Ms. Lynnrae and Ms. Kelly were at it again, bringing kids from all over San Diego County together to tumble and turn. From beginners to advance, these kids were broken up into 3 different groups based on levels and skills.

The beginners started our day with Ms. Kelly receiving a fantastic stretch and then continued on to the fundamentals of acro: backbend kickovers, front walkovers, and even some aerials. After an hour of fun with Ms. Kelly, they then joined Ms. Lynnrae.  The beginners learned a valuable lesson from Ms. Lynnrae before they began technique. All the girls were instructed to put their hair in a bun because as she states “You can’t turn with a ponytail whacking you in the face!”  Once the proper ‘turn hair’ was achieved, they proceed to work on the basic structure of how to execute a proper turn.  While Ms. Lynnrae worked with the beginners our intermediate girls joined Ms. Kelly practicing on making those acro skills as close to perfection as they could. Skills such as backwalkovers, aerials, and backhandsprings were keeping the kids focused, while giving them a great workout. After the hour the classes were switched again and the intermediate kids transferred to Ms. Lynnrae while our advance kids came to get tortured by Ms. Kelly. Ms. Lynnrae really focused on teaching her students about body placement and how turning involves ones’ entire body being positioned the right way. She used fun examples and even drew on her clothing and face to help her students understand the importance of correct posture.

The kids left Ms. Kelly and Ms. Lynnnrae’s classes not only sweaty and tired but filled with new information and confidence that will help them grow in their weekly classes. Building the students’ basic knowledge as well as building new friendships are the premise of these workshops and something Ms. Kelly hopes to continue.


Written by: Ms Brittany Onder

Acro and Turns workshop January 3 2016

The definition of the word workshop given by Merriam-Webster Dictionary is a class or series of classes in which a small group of people learn the methods and skills used in doing something. A perfect definition and description of what happened this weekend at our workshop! Held at Signature Dance Academy off Poway Rd, Ms. Kelly and Ms. Lynnrae taught kids from all over San Diego County, ages 6 and older how to tumble and turn. This workshop was broken into hour long segments where the kids each worked on different skills. They began their day with Ms. Kelly where they worked on a variety of acro tricks from cartwheels to aerials, backbend kickovers to back tucks. These kids were pushed and challenged to achieve goals. After their hour with Ms Kelly, the girls then transferred rooms where Ms. Lynnrae explained the fundamentals of turns. Not only describing with words but using fun visuals to help the students understand what she was teaching. After demonstrating and describing, Ms. Lynnrae then put the kids to work, giving them exercises and combinations to practice across the floor. 

The students that attended the workshop were encouraged to introduce themselves to someone they did not know and in doing so made new friends. Girls and boys that had met only moments before were encouraging and cheering on their new friends while they were working on new tricks. Ms. Kelly’s whole philosophy behind organizing these workshops, beyond teaching new technique, is to create long lasting friendships.

Written by:  Ms Brittany Onder

Jan 6 2016 mini group AA workshopJan 6 2016 middle group AA workshopJan 6 2016 big group AA workshop

The Tumbling Nutcracker is almost here!



Rehearsals for the Tumbling Nutcracker are really starting to come together and many fantastic moments are happening.

Please enjoy a small preview of what is sure to be a fantastic show in a couple more weeks, by checking out these pictures from practices a few weeks ago.

Clara and her Nutcracker Prince’s Pas de Deux:

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The big, opening Party Scene:

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The Bon Bons:

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The Battle Scene:

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The Snowflakes:

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The Second Act, specialty dances:

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This is going to be such a spectacular show!  It will be so wonderful to see the hard work of all the tumblers, dancers, choreographers and teachers when the curtain opens and this show takes the stage on December 20th!